The Merchant Tavern, named because, as co-owners Jeremy Bonia and Jeremy Charles write, “For hundreds of years, merchants have played a role in the development of St. John’s and the province. Merchants came from England and supplied resident fishing families with the goods and equipment necessary for this industry. These merchants would frequent taverns or pubs where they would discuss the business of the day over food & drink.”
It’s a casual cousin of their other restaurant, the celebrated Raymond’s, which has garnered praise from all over the continent. With their restaurant colleagues around the Province, they have re-named and defined “Newfoundland cuisine” with great pride.
When you go, you’ll find an open kitchen and the same focused commitment to the ingredients, many of which are relatively unknown to outsiders, of both Newfoundland and Labrador. Facing fierce storms and with a short summer season, cooking and eating there depends upon resilience, creativity and traditional knowledge. And the two Jeremys have them in spades.
But the Merchant Tavern is more. It’s a place for what they call ‘proper’ cocktails and great beers. With Bonia at the helm, the beverage list is stellar. With Charles overseeing the kitchen, the food matches.
The seafood platter includes the sweet, pink North Atlantic shrimp, NL scallops, whelks and oysters. There’s classic lobster thermidor and freshly shucked snow crab rarebit. There’s organic beet & green salad with sprouted grains and “whelk casino” with lots of garlic butter. The charcuterie is house made and served with good pickles.
I love the dessert menu…vinegar pie with dandelion ice cream; Labrador Tea madeleines and Partridgeberry trifle.
The Merchant Tavern is one of about 250 restaurants that celebrate Food Day across Canada. Contact them at the number below to reserve a table.
The Merchant Tavern est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs. Contactez The Merchant Tavern directement, au numéro ci-dessous, afin de faire votre réservation.
T: 709-722 5050
The Merchant Tavern,
291 Water Street,Box 13580, Stn. A ,
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1B 4B8
Photo at left thanks to Buca Chef Rob Gentile!